If you’ve been paying attention to cigar trends, you’ve probably noticed there have been quite a few. For years, large ring gauges were the name of the game. And then it seemed like everyone was introducing their popular lines in the lancero format. Even more recently, we’ve seen a sudden increase in large figurados and salomon cigars.
But the trend I’m thinking about, the one that’s relevant to this particular cigar review doesn’t have to do with size or shape of the cigar. (Though the thoughtful reader will no doubt see a connection between the 5 Vegas Relic’s shape and the recent large figurado trend.) I’m referring to the fact that 5 Vegas Relic is a puro. But more than that, a puro from a country that isn’t well known for producing them: The Dominican Republic. But Dominican puros are a lot more common than you might expect. In fact, the Mi Dominicana By Jose Seijas I reviewed earlier this month is also one. And then there’s the La Aurora Cien Anos, the Cohiba Puro Dominicana, the Lito Gomez Diez, and, of course the Opus X to name a few.
But back to the 5 Vegas Relic. There’s not a lot of background to divulge about this recent addition to the 5 Vegas brand. The Relic’s only vitola, a perfecto, comes in boxes of 24 and is wrapped in a leaf that is reportedly “a special strand of Cuban-seed” tobacco grown exclusively for Manuel Quesada, of recent Casa Magna fame. Additionally it contains a single 12-year old leaf Dominican Piloto leaf in the filler. So now it’s time to see if the Relic is a worthy effort, or the merely an attempt to cash in on the trends.
Size: 5.7 x 54
Wrapper: Dominican Corojo
Binder: Dominican Piloto
Filler: Dominican ’96 Piloto, Corojo, Criollo
Smoking Time: 1 3/4 hours
Price: MSRP $5.25
I have to admit to being a little pleased with myself. When I slid the first Relic out of it’s cellophane and laid eyes on the oily, toothy wrapper, I thought to myself it looked a bit like the Matasa 30th and the Casa Magna. And in doing my research, I see that I totally nailed it. I should mention that the 5 Vegas Relic is considerably less attractive than either of those other cigars.
Ordinarily a perfecto is a graceful and attractive vitola. That is not the case here. The 5 Vegas Relic is mottled, lumpy and often noticeably lopsided. The veins are thicker and occasionally twisted, looking very much like a flattened spring. (An effect that is often seen in Cuban cigars.) A quick look at the band with it’s worn bronze look and menacing red lettering spelling out “Relic” tells you that this isn’t supposed to be an attractive cigar. It’s supposed to be a beast. Another interesting quirk to this cigar is that the head is not tapered like the foot, it’s actually triple-capped like a non-figurado stick.
The scent of the wrapper was a savory barnyard aroma. And since the cigar has a closed foot, I didn’t get much out of my attempt to take a cold taste except some neck strain. (I kid, I didn’t try.) Some people clip the closed foot of a perfecto before lighting, I generally don’t. I figure if you don’t clip off a shaggy or “unfinished” foot (I’ve been tempted), why would you clip the foot of a perfecto?
The 5 Vegas Relic didn’t get any more attractive as it slowly became ash. The solid ash it produced was dark gray in color, and at it’s best the burn line was slightly wavy. It seems that my decision not to clip the foot may have been ill advised. The first third seemed to be the worst burning part of the cigar, both in terms of draw, evenness of burn and tendency to go out. But, unless I cut pretty deeply into the stick (like the whole first third), there was no escaping a little trouble.
The good news is that just a little before the the cigar entered the second third things seemed to improve. (Or in some cases after a re-light.) Each puff started to produce a better volume of smoke and the burn line became significantly less erratic. And like I said, the ash was pretty strong. This stick might be a good candidate for a long ash competition.
It all started with a nice combination of roasted nuts and creamy coffee. Well it did for most of them. One stick had a little Windex thing going on there too, which had me kind of worried. Fortunately, it was literally only there for one puff. It wasn’t long before the cigar took on a savory, creamy coffee flavor that had a slightly oily mouth feel. From time to time there were a few syrupy notes. Just before the second third, the coffee was replaced by a velvety cinnamon flavor, again with pockets of sweetness.
The second third saw a brief reemergence of the creamy coffee and some chocolate notes early on that were replaced by buttery earth with more of that cinnamon and occasionally, leather. As with the prior third, the cinnamon seemed to take over in the end.
There didn’t seem to be much of a change in the final third. Perhaps a little more body and a little bit of spice added to the mix, but the flavor elements and combinations of the prior third made reappearances here as well.
I try to always quote the MSRP in my reviews, but in this case, it’s a little misleading. The 5 Vegas Relic is only sold at Cigars International (and other sites under the same ownership) and none of them sell the sticks for more than $4.17, provided you buy a box. ($4.70 for a fiver.) But pick whichever price you want, there’s nothing to complain about here.
The 5 Vegas Relic is an interesting cigar. I say that, because even after smoking all of these sticks, I’m a loss to really put a verdict on it. I didn’t love it or hate it. The burn issues the cigar had weren’t as off-putting as they might seem, but the flavors weren’t as good as they sound either. (That is, if buttery earth sounds good to you.) If anything the cigar often tasted “unusual” to me, and I was generally tired of being “interested” by the end of the second third. Perhaps Nick from the Stogie Review forum puts it best when he says “it’s brown, it burns.”
Liked It: It’s brown, it burns.
Buy It Again: Probably not
Recommend It: To the curious- it’s inexpensive, and it’s interesting
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.